By Chuck Woodbury
Older readers of RVtravel.com, especially male readers, will likely remember with great fondness one of the most popular toys of their childhood, the Erector Set.
It was built by the A.C. Gilbert Company, which in its beginnings manufactured magic kits. Its founder, Alfred Carlton Gilbert, was, among other things, an accomplished athlete who won an Olympics gold medal. One of his many other claims to fame was as the owner of the sixth licensed radio station in America.
Erector Sets were made of steel, with real nuts and bolts, unlike today’s toys which are mostly made of plastic.
“Hello Boys! Make lots of toys!” was the company’s motto.
The company also made chemistry sets. The growth of the chemical industry in the United States during the 1920s and 1930s was attributed to the huge popularity of the chemistry sets boys had owned as children.
The Gilbert Microscope was also hugely popular. Each device came with a specimen – a housefly from Gilbert’s milk company that supplied milk at lunchtime to his employees.
And what young boy of the era did not either own a Gilbert-made American Flyer toy electric train or want one?
This 29-minute video is the fascinating story of Arthur Gilbert and his company’s many products. It traces the company’s history from its humble beginnings to its heyday and then to its eventual demise due to sociological changes including the increased popularity of cheap, plastic toys.
As a child did you own an Erector Set, American Flyer train or another A.C. Gilbert toy? Please leave a comment.